Alfred Surenyan, DMA


Every creative profession is challenging and competitive. Stick to your goals and don't give up. Alfred Surenyan , Audio Instructor, DMA , The Art Institute of California—Inland Empire, a campus of Argosy University
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

Music has always been a major influence in my life, and by high school I’d decided I wanted to be a composer. When “Star Wars” was released in 1977, I got the soundtrack. John Williams became one of my heroes. In college, I knew I wanted to compose symphonic and chamber music. and started to focus my education and attention towards that goal, which led to my Doctoral Degree.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

As a working professional, I’m able to teach post production the way it works in the real world. My MIDI class includes a video assignment around the concepts and form of film music, which also is a basic introduction for Composing and Scoring. I challenge my students to balance sound effects with music—they have to learn the proper mixing techniques to create the proper balance of sound effects, music, and dialogue.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching, mentoring, and pushing your students beyond their own perceived limits?

In my MIDI class, students mix and balance new or existing music for a scene so that it doesn’t overpower—or get lost among—the sound effects. In my Composing and Scoring class, they create a leitmotif to a picture of a character that communicates that character’s mood. Projects like these have influenced and inspired many of my students, some of whom have decided to pursue a career in audio production.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

A film student, for example, works with an audio student to create the right sound for a film. Working together helps them learn a little about each other’s role in the production. Most of all, it teaches them that no one person can truly take a project from beginning to end.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Every creative profession is challenging and competitive. Stick to your goals and don’t give up.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Always look ahead, always keep trying. Each job is a stepping stone and a learning experience along the way to the next level.